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We’re delighted to have launched a new counselling service in Oxford….

The service in Oxford was launched on Monday, 9th October, at the Horton General Hospital in Banbury, which coincided with the beginning of Baby Loss Awareness Week.

The proposal to expand to Oxfordshire from its existing bases in Cambridge, Ipswich and London was kick-started by bereavement midwife and counsellor Kim Paul, who was keen to ensure that counselling was still offered to couples after her retirement. As Kim explained, “Many couples find themselves shocked and bewildered by their loss and trauma, and unable to see a way forward. Specialised counselling provides them with a safe place to explore what has happened, begin to make sense of the impact and work towards a more hopeful future. This ability to work together gives them the chance to find a way of grieving for their baby that is unique to them as a couple and is pivotal to their recovery. The provision of psychological support within this field of maternity care is vital to ensure a holistic approach which not only benefits the couple but the whole family during the crisis and the future.”

Bereavement specialist midwife Paula Gallacher added, “I believe a specialist counselling service for parents affected by stillbirth, neonatal death or the diagnosis of fetal anomalies is extremely important. I am proud we are able to offer to specialist counselling at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Petals is able to offer psychological care and support for parents who have experienced pregnancy loss. Promoting recovery, offering coping strategies and helping parents deal with their profound grief at this difficult time.”

The maternity team managed to secured funding from the Ashfield Fund (which in turn is funded by bereaved families), and established a partnership with Oxford University Hospitals to begin counselling in June of this year.  Karen Burgess, Chief Executive of Petals, explained, “Expanding our counselling service to Oxfordshire was part of the strategic plan of Petals as we recognised the need would be similar to our pioneering service in Cambridge.  We are therefore delighted that Ashfield Trust have provided funding, enabling the delivery of our free counselling service to parents in their local area, when they need it most”.

The launch in Oxford was also attended by local MP Victoria Prentis, who is currently Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Baby Loss: “Support for parents suffering the loss of a child is a subject close to my heart.  When our son died, I needed all the help and support I could get.  I am very pleased that a new service is being launched for parents across Oxfordshire, which will be accessible through our much-loved Horton General Hospital. The launch today marks a positive step in providing specialist support for parents and their families. I was honoured to meet those involved in the process and look forward to supporting Petals’ work in the future.”